My sock patterns invariably start with the phrase "Using your preferred cast-on method for toe-up socks..." Today on the tutorial series we're going to take a look at five different ways to cast on socks from the toe up. Perhaps you'll find your favorite method?
What all of these methods have in common is that they start at the very tip of the toe and create what's called a wedge toe: a straight cast-on edge that runs perpendicular to the direction of your work. In addition to toe-up socks, they can also be used to cast on projects that need an invisible, closed cast-on edge, such as top-down hats or mittens, pouches, or other double-sided projects.
#1. Turkish a.k.a. Eastern Cast-on
This is the toe-up cast-on I use the most. It is easy to remember and very easy to do: just wrap the number of stitches you need around both tips of a circular needle (or two DPNs) and you're good to go! I find that I get the smoothest, most invisible result using this cast-on method. The stitches created on the cast-on row just blend in with the rest of the fabric, and you can't tell which way is up and which way is down.
The first round of the Turkish Cast-on can be quite tricky to knit into but it gets easier once you get past the first hurdle. Another thing to remember is that the first slip knot doesn't count as a stitch — just remember to take that into account when you're counting stitches.
#2. Figure Eight Cast-on
The Figure Eight Cast-on is a close cousin to the Turkish Cast-on. Instead of wrapping the yarn around both needle tips at the same time, you're wrapping it over one needle and under the second, always switching direction when you pass the yarn between the needles. Essentially the yarn draws a figure eight (8) around the needle tips — hence the name for the cast-on method.
The Figure Eight Cast-on tends to leave the stitches a little loose on the cast-on row. Also note that the stitches on the second needle are twisted as a result of looping the yarn in the opposite direction to the top needle. On the first round only, remember to knit them through the back loops to untwist them.
#3. Judy's Magic Cast-on
This cast-on method was invented by Judy Becker, and she's written a very famous article about the cast-on in the Spring 2006 issue of Knitty. And I refer to the article all the time.
Judy's Magic Cast-on looks very similar to the Figure Eight but here you use both the tail-end and the working end of the yarn, alternating wrapping one over the top needle tip and the other over the bottom needle tip.
As with the Figure Eight Cast-on, you have to remember to knit the stitches on the second needle through the back loops to straighten them — but only on the first round.
#4. Long-tail Cast-on on Two Needle Tips
That's right: you can even use the good ol' long-tail cast-on to start your toe-up socks! This is just like the regular long-tail cast-on but you alternate the needle tip around which to cast on the stitch.
One thing to bear in mind is that this method is not entirely invisible — it creates a line of purl loops running across the toe. But there's a clever fix for that! Remember the Alternating Long-tail Cast-on? Use that method to cast on stitches purlwise on the bottom needle.
#5. Aggie's Simple Cast-on
The Turkish Cast-on might be my favorite but I saved the best for last. This method is so simple, yet so ingenius, it blows my mind!
Aggie's Simple Cast-on starts with a regular long-tail cast-on. You cast on one more stitch than is called for. Instead of turning the work and knitting the stitches, you rotate your work so that stitches are upside down and knit into the base (or "foot") of the stitches. When you get to the end of the row and run out of feet to knit into, simply slip the extra stitch from the cast-on edge to the second needle, and you're ready to start your socks.
Did you find your favorite cast-on? Sound off in the comments below!
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